Leave 'em laughing

Pictures tell the stories of our lives—as these do, starting with this one.

Not everyone has a photograph to memorialize the moment a love story started.     I do– because Mel Brooks was there  when Howard and I met—and also came along on our first date a few hours later.

We spent the whole time laughing—a sign of what was to come.

 It was a whirlwind romance,  the kind you see in movies, the kind you read about—ours was in Liz Smith’s syndicated column when thanks to Mel, we got married 3 months after we met.

Even without words, our continuing story is captured in pictures:

From about this point  our story is captured in words.  Divorce.  Remarriage.  Cancer.

But  we share our children, so our story and memories are never separate, but shared.

Recently I’ve been absorbed in all those memories and stories as I’ve gone through the pictures that tell them—in preparation for the celebration of Howard’s life this weekend in Los Angeles.

Ironically, just as there’s a photo memorializing our beginning, there’s also one memorializing the end.  I won’t post it; but it’s actually the last picture of him, taken  just 3 days before he died.  In that one, he’s sitting in a chair, leaning his head back against me standing behind him.  Which is additionally ironic; because through our entire relationship, whether married or not, it’s me who leaned on HIM.

There are other photographs that really illustrate his legacy.   In many of them, a central theme of his life stands out—humor.  Not only in the comedy legends he represented in Hollywood, but in who he was—the twinkle in his eye, always laughing,  smiling, his personal mission seemed to be evoking a belly laugh from the people around him.  And he always did.



That’s why we’re calling his memorial tribute “Leave ’em laughing”—it  seems fitting to leave him with what he gave us—laughter, and love.

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  1. says

    Dear Darryle,
    Thank you for sharing this insight into such an extraordinary relationship.
    I love that…Leave ‘Em Laughing. What a perfect way to remember and
    celebrate a life. I will be sending you big virtual hugs and love during this week
    of what has to be a mixed bag of every feeling imaginable.

  2. V says


    A lovely piece on Howard. And a nice way for people to ‘virtually’ share the celebration of his life, even if they can’t be at the actual event in LA this Sunday.

    I have just now learned that circumstances are going to prevent me from being there. I was very much looking forward to the event, meeting some of Howard’s friends from Chicago and saying a few words about Howard’s and my unique relationship.

    Here’s the gist of what I would have said –

    As many of you know, Darryle, my wife, is Howard’s ex. This wouldn’t seem like the ideal set up for forming a close relationship but, as we all know, life is full of surprises.

    I haven’t collected a lot of stories about Howard demonstrating the extreme lengths I hear he has taken in pursuit of a great bargain. Ironically, most of my Howard stories demonstrate how generous he was. The Howard I knew never hoarded the good things he discovered in life. He wanted everyone else to share – a new movie he liked, a good book he had just read, a great restaurant he had just discovered, a stock tip ( like his encouragement to me to buy Apple when it was $18 a share ) or even the pleasures to be found in taking one’s car to the best car wash in the valley.

    But, by far, the greatest generosity that Howard showed me was in regards to his children. The boon of my life has been the bonus of getting to have Alli and Daniel in my life that I got from marrying Darryle. When Darryle moved with the kids from LA to Carmel to start our life together, it was hard on Howard. But he never took it out on me. He even encouraged me to have a real role in his children’s lives and we talked often about the kids, sharing stories and perspectives. No one could have been more gracious, under these circumstances, than Howard, and none of the joys and delights that I have taken from experiences that I have had with the kids would have been possible without the classiness shown by Howard.

    On the day Howard passed i was talking to Darryle on the phone. She was very emotional. But, in typical Darryle fashion, she summed up, in one phrase, the essence of my experience of Howard ( and I would guess others of you as well ). She said, ‘Howard leaves a big hole’. When she said that I had a sudden realization – Howard wasn’t just a good friend, he had been my best friend. I wish I had had this epiphany earlier so that I could of told him. But maybe he’s listening. I hope so.


  3. says

    What an amazing man. I wish I had known him. I hope the “leave ’em laughing” theme catches on. What a wonderful gift to give his loved ones. Really looking forward to celebrating his life, his legacy, and incorporating his spirit into my life and work.

    Also a lovely post from V…hope to meet him one day!

  4. says

    So appreciate your words as always. As you say it’s a mixed bag of feelings—but actually it’s made a lot easier by focusing on the laughter—in Howard’s case, the perfect and only way to possibly remember and celebrate him. Thanks so much Wendi! xxxooo

  5. says

    V–of course I know that you can’t be there, and why; and I’ll be very proud to read your words if I can get through them without tearing up as I did when I read them here. Being you, I’m not really surprised that you could so perfectly and eloquently appreciate the essence of who Howard was—both while he was here and now that he’s gone. And how much that says about you—that you could, and would do that. I’m truly a lucky woman.

  6. says

    I know you’ll meet V, hopefully one day soon; and I hope our theme catches on too, it’s a great way to celebrate someone’s life.
    The event will be fun with plenty of laughs—whether or not you knew Howard personally—- he left us with a lot of rich raw material to remember him by. Thanks, J; I promise you a memorable day Sunday!.

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